“We are fighting for pay – but we are also fighting for respect. We want our lives and our dignity back.” These were the words of one of 2,500 striking London bus workers employed by First who took action over pay recently.
They express the feelings of millions in Britain struggling with low pay, long hours and rising bills, who are treated with contempt by their bosses. As recession looms and prices spiral the pressure on working people is mounting.
On the buses this often means working a 60-hour week just to make ends meet. Bus drivers, like many others, leave work each day exhausted. They find they never have enough time to spend with their families.
To add insult to injury, competing bus operators are driving down wages and conditions so workers get vastly different rates of pay for the same job.
But bus workers are fighting back. The strike by drivers in the Unite union at First was a huge success, with mass pickets bringing many garages to a standstill. The First workers will strike again this Friday – and they will be joined by 1,000 drivers at Metrobus.
Thousands more London bus workers are now balloting for strikes. The growing anger is turning into action.
As one driver at First told Socialist Worker, “The companies are still making huge profits. They are not suffering – we are. We have to make a stand.”